What's the Difference Between a
Funeral Service and a Memorial Service?
By Mike Testa
Funeral homes provide different services depending on
the needs and preferences of the decedent's family.
While many people use the phrases "funeral service" and
"memorial service" interchangeably, they are actually
A "funeral service" is any official ceremony that takes
place in the presence of a casketed body. In other
words, the body (inside a casket) is present during the
ceremony. The casket lid may be open or closed.
A "memorial service", on the other hand, is any official
ceremony that takes place without the casketed body
being present. For example, the ceremony might take
place with just an urn containing cremated remains (i.e.
"ashes") serving as the focal point of the ceremony.
Alternatively, the focal point could be just a picture
of the deceased displayed on an easel.
Other than this distinction, both a funeral service and
a memorial service are similar. Both types of services
last approximately 25 minutes and are usually
accompanied by a eulogy delivered by a family member or
clergy member. Both types of services can be held at a
funeral home, church, or any other place the family
Usually, a funeral home will charge the same amount for
a memorial ceremony as they charge for a funeral
ceremony (around $500). Remember, the ceremony itself is
just one component of overall funeral costs. A typical
funeral or memorial service can easily run more than
Although, this article just touched on one aspect of
funeral planning, there are many considerations that
need to be addressed in deciding between a funeral,
memorial, or cremation service.
Michael Testa, CPA
The web's leading funeral information resource.